News Letter 5849-041
18th day of the 9th month
5849 years after the creation of Adam
The 9th Month in the Fourth year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
November 23, 2013
Shabbat Shalom Family,
As I have shared with you in previous Newsletters, we have hired a marketing team to help promote and spread this message of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. It does cost money and you have now seen them at work by the new web site and the last two emails. Make sure you check your spam in case our emails have ended up there. Also make sure you are now signed into the new web site to the right to receive all future email and news letters.
In the past many people have told me to just give away all my teachings and I have done so on sightedmoon.com
Those same people then write to say I should not sell the information in a book and should also give that away. But those same people never reach into Fort Knox to help pay for those things I am giving away let alone my time for doing the research that they are benefiting from.
The scripture says in Pro 23:23 “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”
Everyone is quoting the “sell it not” part but forget the part that says to “BUY THE TRUTH.” They also do not help to pay for the marketing team, or the publishing costs of each book, or the web site cost or maintenance, and the books that are needed for the research that goes into many of the things we produce. By the time I pay for the next book I will have spent over $20,000 in publishing costs.
I call those people the selfish ones. Forever taking and never giving. Armchair quarterbacks who never get into the game but just sit back and self-righteously critique others who are doing something.
I am not complaining; I am wanting you all to know and understand what it is that we are doing here.
You are not putting food on my table. I work for a living and I am not expecting that to be taken care of by the brethren.
We have been telling you that the next Sabbatical year is in 2016 and that for those who do not keep it, the next curse of war begins in 2017-2023.
With just over 2 years left to reach the millions we are aiming to reach, I find the task overwhelming and I do not think I am going to be able to get the job done.
In an effort to get it done I have this marketing group now sending out emails in an effort to help raise the money needed to get this message out to the rest of Israel. They have done this for Michael Rood and Keith Johnson. They say I have a much better starting point than either of them did so it should go well.
We spent 10’s of thousands of dollars between our ad shoots and the production of the videos and rental of the hall and equipment needed to produce the 40 hours of teachings we are about to release. If other people had not helped out then these teachings would still not be available for you and others to now hear.
I want to do this for free but I am being told to charge you for it. It costs money for these things to be produced so that you, too, can learn the deeper things of Yehovah.
Some of you have already given much and I thank you so much for that. Many of you, not so much. As I have said on the give page, we are that last generation when all those things in prophecy will be fulfilled in our time; The terrible Great Tribulation and all those things that lead up to it.
This coming teaching series on video is nearing the end of the editing process. I am now just about done with the final edit of the book about the 70 Weeks of Daniel and the 2300 Days of Hell. We are so close to that time that will destroy everything you see around you. Look at your children and understand how old they will be in less than 7 years time. Will they be protected because you kept the next Sabbatical year? What about everyone else? How are they going to hear this message unless someone puts it in front of them such as on TV? These things do cost money and there is no way around this fact. That is why I am asking you to help.
It is time to step up now and help. We no longer have time to play religion. Please prayerfully consider helping us with this huge task.
The truth hurts and someone has to tell the people. Such is the office I seem to find myself in.
So how can you help?
Prayers. No, I am not just saying that to sound Holy. It actually does help and Yehovah does hear your prayers if you are righteous. I need your prayers to do this right and wisely. The marketing team needs your prayers to put this in such a way that it attracts those Yehovah is calling.
In each Newsletter are ways for you to share these articles with your groups. Last weeks article on the two new proof’s of the Sabbatical years would be one to share with all of your friends on Facebook, Linkedin, Google or what ever other social medium you are using. This will potentially add more readers to the Newsletter.
The more people we see who open the Newsletter and share it, the more we are able to know what messages are of interest. The more readers we have, the better our abilities are to be interviewed by other TV hosts. So please share each Newsletter. Also know that we will prune the email list. If your address is not opening the emails then after a few months we will prune the list. I am not looking for massive numbers on the list but I am looking for an active and interested list. Again, I have had people who have told me since our recent change to the new website, that our Newsletters and/or confirmation to subscribe to it, are ending up in their SPAM folder. If you have signed up or are no longer receiving them, please be sure and check your SPAM folders. If you still do not receive them then please go to the new website and sign up again.
In order to keep the marketing team alive we have to feed them and their family members. This is what they do for a living and they have to eat. So if you can make a monthly donation it will help us to be able to budget how much we can do each month. Yes, I do teach that you are not to tithe unless it is to the Levite who is maintaining the Temple, but you can make a free will offering. And as you know there is no temple to be giving to nor any Levites.
Ezekiel says that if we see war coming we must warn the brethren. I have done that. I can walk away knowing I have done my best. Can you say that or will the blood of those killed be found on your hands because you would not help? War is coming; there is no doubt about that. Millions will die and this we also know to be true. Who and how many depends on how loud we can make ourselves heard. But I also know there are millions of others who have not heard about this coming war nor the Sabbatical Years; nor the Holy Days of Lev 23 nor the Sabbath. And it is those I would like to and want to reach. But I now need you help.
The Sabbatical year is 2016 and starts at Aviv 1. Everyone needs time just like you did to learn this and come to understand it. They need time to let it all sink in.
Our next book is going to stun you as will the DVD teachings. Everything we have learned points to the destruction of the USA and UK beginning in 2020; the middle of this Jubilee Cycle. And we need to warn them before that time.
In order to reach them, it is going to cost us millions to reach that type of audience in such a short time. But it is possible. So this is why we are asking for donations. I am not used to doing that, but I do see this as necessary in order to get the job done and for others to be able to help share this important message.
Will you help? Please, when Shabbat is over, please do help. Make a donation so we can get this marketing machine going big time. You can send a cheque to me or go to our give page. But this cannot be just a one time gift although they do help, but we must make a sustained effort for the next 7 years. Will you help us to do that? Please pray about this.
Once again this week I am going to offend and make some of you mad.
Each year I try not to get involved in the Chanukah lies that are taught and used to justify each persons own desires to keep this false festival of lights. Others, using the exact same excuses, do so to justify the keeping of Christmas and if they are from the East Indian background the keeping of Daliwa.
Lets be clear here. The story of the birth of Yehshua in a manger is never the issue for not keeping Christmas. It is all the pagan trappings and the fact that Yehshua was born on the Feast of Trumpets and not Dec. 25th that are the main reason most of us no longer keep it.
Concerning the Chanukah season. It is Not the story of the Heroic deeds of the Maccabees that is in question here. The lie about the oil being lit for 8 days and the twisting of scriptures to justify keeping this event is what we are against. Lets talk about the Maccabees in July or at Passover then. It is also the adding to the Torah another holiday not found in Lev 23.
This false festival of lights season is an attempt to impersonate the true light of Yehovah even using the same Scriptures He uses speaking of Himself- the True Light.
2Co 11:13 For such ones are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 Did not even Satan marvelously transform himself into an angel of light? 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.
It is time we admit it; so are some of you working on Satan’s behalf. You would rather follow the traditions of men than the word of Yehovah. You “yeah but…” yourselves into justifying everything and fight against those who expose the truth.
Those of you who used to be of the Christian faith and are now keeping Torah, sort of, justify the keeping of Chanukah based on John 10. So now lets take a look at it.
Joh 10:22 And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s Porch.
Did Yehshua keep the Feast of Chanukah on the 25th day of the 9th month? It is time you learned the truth. But once you do will you “yeah but…” yourselves to deny the facts just so you can feel good and keep the company of others who are also deceived. Have you become so steeped in your vain traditions that you can no longer serve your first love- the keeping of Torah and obeying Yehovah by not adding ANYTHING to His Word? You may be mad at me now but you will know the answer to my question by the end of this article.
The word winter here is;
G5494 ?????? cheim?n khi-mone’
From a derivation of ??? che? (to pour; akin to the base of G5490 through the idea of a channel), meaning a storm (as pouring rain); by implication the rainy season, that is, winter: – tempest, foul weather, winter.
It was the rainy season when Yehshua walked in the Temple of Solomon’s court.
In Israel, the yearly cycle with its four seasons are not as clearly marked as the lands to the north of it. But to the Jew every season was a special time and a reminder of the promises of God, as He said to Noah “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter” (Genesis 8: 22).
Gen 8:21 And Jehovah smelled a sweet odor. And Jehovah said in His heart, I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, because the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. And I will not again smite every living thing as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Though the Bible specifically mentions summer, winter, spring and autumn, it may come as a surprise to know that the Bible never mentions four seasons, but only two. The Hebrew word “stav”, translated today as “autumn,” is mentioned only once in the Bible in the Song of Solomon “for lo, the winter is passed, the rain is over and gone…” (Song 2:11), “stav” really speaks of the time of the winter rains. The Hebrew word “aviv”, translated today as spring is mentioned twice in the Bible, both referring to a stage in the ripening of barley rather than a season. The month of Aviv (hodesh ha’aviv) is the time when this ripening of barley takes place. This is, of course, the Hebrew month of Nissan. There is no mention of a season called spring anywhere in the Bible. Therefore we must conclude that the Bible only recognizes two seasons, summer and winter, or as the writers of the Talmud put it, “the days of sun” and “the days of rain.”
With just 2 seasons we can then understand that the season of summer begins when the Barley is Aviv and the first month has begun. In this first month are the Spring Holy Days of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
Six months later begins the 7th month. And because the year has 12 months, 6 for the summer and 6 for the winter, the 7th month begins in winter. That 7th month contains the Fall Feasts; The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles as well as the Eighth Day Feast of “Simchat Torah.” These all take place in the season of “winter”.
We are commanded to keep the Feasts of Yehovah three times a year.
Exo 23:14 You shall keep a feast to Me three times in the year. 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And no one shall appear before Me empty. 16 Also the Feast of Harvest, the first-fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field. Also the Feast of Ingathering, in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.
Yehshua was Jewish and would have kept this commandment. If He did not keep it then He would have sinned and disqualified Himself as being the Messiah.
Now let us get the proper perspective of what is going on leading up to the statement in John 10 that so many use to justify giving up Christmas in order for them to begin the keeping of another false holiday today called Chanukah.
Joh 7:1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee, for He did not desire to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 And the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near.
As we continue to read John we see that Yehshua was then teaching in the Temple.
Joh 7:14 Now about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught.
Joh 7:28 Then Jesus cried in the temple as He taught, saying, You both know Me, and you know from where I come. And I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.
Joh 7:37 And in the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” 39 (But He spoke this about the Spirit, which they who believed on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.) 40 Then when they heard the Word, many of the people said, Truly this is the Prophet.
The last day of the Feast is the Seventh Day. There is yet one more Holy Day called The Eighth Day. This is what we are reading about as John 7 ends and John ch. 8 begins.
Joh 7:53 And they each went to his own house.
Joh 8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him. And He sat down and taught them.
It is at this time on the Eighth Day Feast that we read about Yehshua being the “Light of the world” and it is these words that many will try to steal and apply to the Feast of Chanukah on the 25th of the 9th month which is totally out of context.
Joh 8:12 Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
So far everything we have been reading in John 7 and 8 has taken place during Sukkot and the eighth day. Now as we finish chapter 8 it is still the 8th Day, The last Holy Day. Chapter 9 continues from chapter 8 when Yehshua passed by those who wanted to stone Him. And as He passed by them He sees the blind man. It is still the 8th Day, it is still a Holy Day and He is still in Jerusalem because the blind man went to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes.
Joh 8:58 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM! 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus hid Himself and went forth out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and passed on by.
Joh 9:1 And passing by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?
We read something very important in verse 14.
Joh 9:14 And it was a sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
The word translated Sabbath here is Sabbaton.
G4521 ???????? sabbaton sab’-bat-on
Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se’nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: – sabbath (day), week.
Strong’s has it wrong here. Sabbaton is number H7677. Yes, it originates from 7676. But there is a huge difference. 7677 is the word Sabbaton!
And Sabbaton is a high Holy Day.
H7677 ??????? shabbâthôn shab-baw-thone’
From H7676; a sabbatism or special holiday: – rest, sabbath.
Yehshua healed the blind man on the High Holy Day of the Eighth Day. We read of the events with this blind man for the rest of Chapter 9 and ongoing into chapter 10. And this conversation goes on between Yehshua and the Pharisees right up until verse 18.
Then John tells us the results of these conversations because of the healing of the blind man right up until the verse when John then states Yehshua was walking in the porch of Solomons Temple. This is a continuation of the things that had just happened during the Feast of Tabernacles also called the Feast of Dedication.
Joh 10:22 And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s Porch. 24 Then the Jews encircled Him and said to Him, How long do you make us doubt? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you and you did not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.
The Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Dedication as it was also called, was now over and it was the day after when people begin to go back to their homes. It was at this time after the Feast of Dedication was over that the Jews surrounded Yehshua and they continue the same conversation they had been having during the Feast.
This false notion that this is referring to Chanukah on the 25th of the 9th month is so not true it is sickening. To know so many have taken John 10:22 and twisted it and misapplied it as they now do- all in order to justify themselves to keep something that was invented by the Pharisees in the Talmud. Those things in the Talmud, were not written down until after 200 C.E. long after the Temple had been destroyed in 70 C.E.
The keeping of what today is known as Chanukah (Chanukah in Hebrew is “Dedication”) and justifying it because of John 10:22 is false as you have just read. Yehshua was not keeping Chanukah on the 25th of the 9th month! He had just finished keeping the Feast of Dedication, The Feast of Tabernacles which is one of the Hags we are commanded to go up to Jerusalem and observe.
Let me give you something else to consider.
Exo 16:4 Then Jehovah said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from the heavens for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain amount every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My Law or not. 5 And on the sixth day it shall happen, they shall prepare what they bring in. And it shall be twice as much as they gather day by day.
The giving of the manna was a way for Yehovah to test the people of Israel and see if they would OBEY Him.
Exo 16:22 And it happened, on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said to them, This is that which Jehovah has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath to Jehovah. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil. And that which remains over, lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up until the morning, as Moses said. And it did not stink, neither was there any worm in it. 25 And Moses said, Eat that today. For today is a sabbath to Jehovah. Today you shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it happened some of the people went out on the seventh day in order to gather. And they did not find any. 28 And Jehovah said to Moses, How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My Laws? 29 See, because Jehovah has given you the sabbath, therefore He gives you the bread of two days on the sixth day. Each one stay in his place. Let not any one go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
Through providing manna on six days of the week but not the seventh, Yehovah was testing His people. But how was He testing them? As noted in verse 4, Yehovah was learning “whether they will walk in My law or not.” Would they choose Yehovah’s way, or their own way? Some immediately failed the test (verses 27-29).
The people were not working on the Sabbath, because there was no manna to be picked up. What they did was not obey Yehovah and believe Him. Yehovah asked them:
How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My Laws?
Week after week for 40 years Yehovah tested the people to see if they would obey Him or not.
Deu 8:2 And you shall remember all the way which Jehovah your God led you these forty years in the wilderness in order to humble you, to prove you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Deu 8:15 He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground, where there was no water, who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know, so that He might humble you and so that He might prove you, to do you good in your latter end, 17 and so that you might not say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth. 18 But you shall remember Jehovah your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, so that He may confirm His covenant which He has sworn to your fathers, as it is today.
Here we are now in the Last Days and Yehovah has poured out His Holy Spirit on each one of you. He again sets His Sabbaths before you as a sign between you and Him, to see if you will obey Him or not. If we are to keep His Torah we will LIVE in it.
Eze 20:10 And I caused them to go out from the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. 11 And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. 12 And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah who sets them apart. 13 But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man does, he shall even live in them. And they greatly profaned My Sabbaths. And I said, I will pour out My fury on them in the wilderness to destroy them.
But many of you presume to be smarter than Yehovah. You have developed whole theologies about Chanukah and Yehshua. Yehovah has given you His Sabbaths and all of them are found in Leviticus 23. The weekly Sabbath and the Holy Days. Yes, you say “we keep these,” but then some of you refuse to keep the Sabbatical Year and you justify it, and then you also justify adding other holidays to the ones in Lev 23.
We are in the very last days and Yehovah is TESTING you now to see if you will obey Him or not.
Deu 4:2 You shall not add to the Word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, so that you may keep the commands of Jehovah your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32 All the things I command you, be careful to do it. You shall not add to it, nor take away from it.
Rev 22:18 For I testify together to everyone who hears the Words of the prophecy of this Book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add on him the plagues that have been written in this Book.
When you add other holidays to those in Lev 23 you are endangering you and your family to the curses of Lev 26. Look again at what Ezekiel says; And they greatly profaned My Sabbaths. And I said, I will pour out My fury on them in the wilderness to destroy them.
It is my strong opinion that Yehovah allowed John to state that it was the “Dedication” and “winter” in order that Yehovah could test you in these last days as to whether or not you would profane His Sabbath by adding to it other holidays. He is proving those who are to be Kings and Priests in the Kingdom. King David will rule over them during the Millennium and King David has never heard of the “Chanukah” festival.
Psa 26:2 Examine me, O Jehovah, and prove me; purify my heart and my mind.
Prove you love to Yehovah and keep only what He has said to keep in Lev 23 and Lev 25. Do not add to it.
Now read of the real Dedication which Solomon did and the one Yehshua was keeping a memorial to. The REAL LIGHT came and filled the Temple. Not some imposter light on a candle.
1Ki 8:1 And Solomon gathered the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, so that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of Jehovah out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 And all the men of Israel were gathered to King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 And all the elders of Israel came in, and the priests took up the ark. 4 And they brought up the ark of Jehovah, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels which were in the tabernacle; even those the priests and the Levites brought up. 5 And King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who had assembled to him, were with him before the ark sacrificing sheep and oxen which could not be counted nor numbered for multitude. 6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of Jehovah into its place, into the holy place of the house, into the Holy of Holies, under the wings of the cherubs. 7 For the cherubs spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark. And the cherubs covered the ark and the staves of it above. 8 And they drew out the staves, so that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place, in front of the Holy of Holies. And they were not seen outside. And there they are until today. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when Jehovah made a covenant with the sons of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And it happened when the priests had come out of the Holy of Holies, the cloud filled the house of Jehovah. 11 And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of Jehovah. 12 And Solomon said, Jehovah said that He would dwell in the thick darkness. 13 I have surely built a house of loftiness for You, a settled place for You to abide in forever. 14 And the king turned his face around and blessed all the congregation of Israel. And all the congregation of Israel stood. 15 And he said, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to David my father, and has fulfilled it by His hand, saying, 16 From the day that I brought forth My people Israel out of Egypt, I did not choose any city out of all the tribes of Israel to build a house, so that My name might be in it. But I chose David to be over My people Israel. 17 And it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel. 18 And Jehovah said to my father David, Because it was in your heart to build a house to My name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19 Only, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall come out of your loins, he shall build the house to My name. 20 And Jehovah has performed His Word which He spoke, and I have risen up instead of my father David. And I sit on the throne of Israel, as Jehovah promised. And I have built a house for the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel. 21 And I have set there a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of Jehovah which He made with our fathers when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. 22 And Solomon stood before the altar of Jehovah in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward the heavens. 23 And he said, Jehovah, the God of Israel, there is no God like You, in Heaven above or on earth beneath, who keeps covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, 24 who have kept with Your servant David my father what You promised him. You also spoke with Your mouth, and have fulfilled with Your hand, as it is today. 25 And now, Jehovah, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David, my father, what You promised him, saying, There shall not be cut off from you a man in My sight to sit on the throne of Israel– if your sons take heed to their way so that they walk before Me as you have walked before Me. 26 And now, O God of Israel, I pray You, let Your Word be proved to be true, the Word which You spoke to Your servant David my father. 27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this house which I have built? 28 Yet, O, Jehovah my God, You have turned toward the prayer of Your servant and to his request, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; 29 for Your eyes to be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, My name shall be there; to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. 30 And You shall listen to the cry of Your servant, and of Your people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place, and hear in Heaven Your dwelling-place, and when You hear, forgive! 31 If any man sins against his neighbor, and if an oath is laid on him to cause him to swear, and if the oath comes before Your altar in this house, 32 then hear in Heaven, and do, and judge Your servants, to declare the wicked to be wicked, to bring his way on his head, and to declare the righteous to be righteous, to give him according to his righteousness. 33 When Your people Israel are crushed before the enemy because they have sinned against You, and shall turn again to You and confess Your name, and pray, and cry to You in this house, 34 then hear in Heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them again into the land which You gave to their fathers. 35 When the heavens are restrained, and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, if they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them, 36 then hear in Heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants, and of Your people Israel, for You shall teach them the good way in which they should walk, and give rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance. 37 If there is famine in the land, if there is plague, blasting, mildew, locusts; if there are stripping locusts; if their enemy encircles them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness, 38 any prayer, any supplication from any man of all Your people Israel, who shall each know the plague of his own heart, and shall spread forth his hands toward this house, 39 then hear in Heaven Your dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to all his ways, whose heart You know. For You, You only, know the hearts of all the sons of Adam. 40 Do this so that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You have given to our fathers. 41 And concerning a stranger who is not of Your people Israel, but who comes out of a far country for Your name’s sake; 42 for they shall hear of Your great name and of Your strong hand and of Your stretched-out arm; and if he shall come and pray toward this house, 43 hear in Heaven Your dwelling-place, and do according to all that the stranger calls to You for, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as Your people Israel do, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name. 44 If Your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever You shall send them, and shall pray to Jehovah toward the city which You have chosen, and the house that I have built for Your name, 45 then hear in Heaven their prayer and their cry, and maintain their cause. 46 If they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin), and if You are angry with them, and have delivered them up before the enemy, and they have been led away captive to the land of the enemy, far or near, 47 yet if they shall think within themselves in the land where they are carried captives, and repent, and pray to You in the land of their captors saying, We have sinned and have done perversely, we have done wickedly, 48 and so return to You with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and if they pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, to the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name, 49 then hear their prayer and their cry in Heaven Your dwelling-place, and maintain their cause, 50 and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, even all their sins which they have done against You, and give them pity before their captors, so that they may have pity on them. 51 For they are Your people, and Your inheritance, which You brought out of Egypt, from the middle of the furnace of iron, 52 for Your eyes shall be open to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your people Israel, to listen to them in all that they call for to You. 53 For You have separated them from among all the people of the earth to be Your inheritance, as You spoke by the hand of Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord Jehovah. 54 And it happened as Solomon finished praying all this prayer and petition to Jehovah, he rose from before the altar of Jehovah, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55 And he stood and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56 Blessed be Jehovah, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant. 57 May Jehovah our God be with us as He was with our fathers. Let Him not leave us nor forsake us, 58 to incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments which He commanded our fathers. 59 And let these my words, with which I have prayed before Jehovah, be near Jehovah our God day and night, so that He may maintain the cause of His servant, and the cause of His people Israel of each day in its day, 60 for all the people of the earth know that Jehovah is God; there is no other. 61 And let your heart be perfect with Jehovah our God, to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments, as at this day. 62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before Jehovah. 63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to Jehovah, twenty-two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of Jehovah. 64 On that day the king sanctified the middle of the court before the house of Jehovah. For there he had offered the burnt offering, and the food offering, and the fat of the peace offerings; because the bronze altar before Jehovah was too small to contain the burnt offering, and the food offering, and the fat of the peace offerings. 65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath to the river of Egypt, before Jehovah our God, seven days and seven days, fourteen days. 66 On the eighth day he sent the people away. And they blessed the king and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that Jehovah had done for David His servant, and for Israel His people.
The Talmud (/?t??lm?d, -m?d, ?tæl-/; Hebrew: ?????????? talm?d “instruction, learning”, from a root lmd “teach, study”) is a central text of Rabbinic Judaism. It is also traditionally referred to as Shas (????), a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, the “six orders”. The Talmud has two components. The first part is the Mishnah (Hebrew: ????, c. 200 CE), the written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Torah (Torah meaning “Instruction”, “Teaching” in Hebrew). The second part is the Gemara (c. 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Jewish Bible. The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably, though strictly speaking that is not accurate.
The whole Talmud consists of 63 tractates, and in standard print is over 6,200 pages long. It is written in Tannaitic Hebrew and Aramaic. The Talmud contains the teachings and opinions of thousands of rabbis on a variety of subjects, including Halakha (law), Jewish ethics, philosophy, customs, history, lore and many other topics. The Talmud is the basis for all codes of Jewish law and is much quoted in rabbinic literature.
Originally, Jewish scholarship was oral. Rabbis expounded and debated the Torah (the written Torah expressed in the Jewish Bible) and discussed the Tanakh without the benefit of written works (other than the Biblical books themselves), though some may have made private notes (megillot setarim), for example of court decisions. However, this situation changed drastically, mainly as the result of the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth and the Second Temple in the year 70 CE and the consequent upheaval of Jewish social and legal norms. As the Rabbis were required to face a new reality—mainly Judaism without a Temple (to serve as the center of teaching and study) and Judea without at least partial autonomy—there was a flurry of legal discourse and the old system of oral scholarship could not be maintained. It is during this period that Rabbinic discourse began to be recorded in writing. The earliest recorded oral Torah may have been of the midrashic form, in which halakhic discussion is structured as exegetical commentary on the Pentateuch. But an alternative form, organized by subject matter instead of by biblical verse, became dominant about the year 200 CE, when Rabbi Judah haNasi redacted the Mishnah.
The Oral Torah was far from monolithic; rather, it varied among various schools. The most famous two were the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. In general, all valid opinions, even the non-normative ones, were recorded in the Talmud.
As you can see the Talmud was not written down until after 200 C.E. That is over 170 years after Yehshua was killed. Now lets read what the Talmud does say about the keeping of Chanukah.
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, page 21b
Our Rabbis taught: The commandment of Chanukah requires one light per household; the zealous kindle a light for each member of the household; and the extremely zealous — Beit Shammai maintain: On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are gradually reduced [by one each day]; but Beit Hillel say: On the first day one is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased. Ulla said: In the West [Eretz Yisrael] two amoraim, R. Jose b. Abin and R. Jose b. Zebida, differ concerning this: one maintains, the reasoning of Beit Shammai is that it should correspond to the days still to come, and that of Beit Hillel is that it shall correspond to the days that are gone. But another maintains: Beit Shammai’s reason is that it shall correspond to the bullocks of the Festival [of Tabernacles; i.e. Sukkot], while Beit Hillel’s reason is that we increase in matters of sanctity but do not reduce.
Rabbah b. Bar Hana said: There are two old men in Sidon: one did as Beth Shammai and the other as Beth Hillel: the former gave the reason of his action that it should correspond to the bullocks of the Festival, while the latter stated his reason because we promote in [matters of] sanctity but do not reduce.
Our Rabbis taught: It is incumbent to place the Chanukah lamp by the door of one’s house on the outside; if one dwells in an upper chamber, place it at the window nearest the street. But in times of danger it is sufficient to place it on the table. Raba said: Another lamp is required for its light to be used, yet if there is a blazing fire it is unnecessary. But in the case of an important person, even if there is a blazing fire another lamp is required.
What is the reason for Chanukah? For our Rabbis taught: On the 25th of Kislev begin the days of Chanukah, which are eight, during which lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they [the Hasmoneans] searched and found only one cruse of oil which possessed the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient oil for only one day’s lighting; yet a miracle occurred there and they lit [the lamp] for eight days. The following year these days were appointed a Festival with the recitation of Hallel and thanksgiving.
Right there in plain site is the lie that this light stayed lit for 8 days. Now compare this to what it actually says in Maccabees. The miracle of Chanukah never took place. It is made up starting in the Talmud.
[The Second Book of Maccabees 1:1-9 and 10:1-8]
The Jewish brethren in Jerusalem and those in the land of Judea, to their Jewish brethren in Egypt: Greeting and good peace.
May God do good to you, and may God remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants. May he give you all a heart to worship him and to do his will with a strong heart and a willing spirit. May he open your heart to his law and his commandments, and may he bring peace. May he hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time of evil. We are now praying for you here.
In the reign of Demetrius, in the 169th year, we Jews wrote to you in the critical distress which came upon us in those years after Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom and burned the gate and shed innocent blood. We besought the Lord and we were heard, we offered sacrifice and cereal offering and we lit the lamps and we set out the loaves. Now see that you keep the Feast of Booths in the month of Kislev, in the 188th year…
Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the Temple and the city and they tore down the altars which had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary and made another altar of sacrifice. Then striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they burned incense and lit lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate and besought the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the 25th day of Kislev. They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the Feast of Booths, remembering how not long before, during the Feast of Booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. They decreed by public ordinance and vote that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.
For those who want to read more about this I have the following articles for you.
The Festival of Lights; Do we have to deal with this again?
Hochen a Hanukah Hair Ball
Chanukah Is Mithraism and Why You Need to be Rebaptised
Chanukah and Its Pagan Traditions
The Truth that Chanukah Hides
I have next an article from Eddy Chumney. I want you to notice that he too is calling the Feast of “Dedication” the Feast of Tabernacles.
“On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the Lord” (Leviticus [Vayikra]) 23:34 NAS). You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in [the ingathering, KJV] from your threshing floor and your wine vat (Deuteronomy [Devarim] 16:13 NAS).
Sukkot, usually translated as “Tabernacles,” or the festival of “Booths,” occurs for seven days, from Tishrei 15 to 21. There is therefore a quick transition from the high holidays, with their somber mood of repentance and judgment, to a holiday of rejoicing and celebration, for which the people are commanded to build a hut [sukkah; plural, sukkot) and make it their home. The Torah identifies the sukkah (booth) with the temporary dwellings in which the Israelites lived in the wilderness after they left Egypt on their way to the Promised Land (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:42).
From Yom Kippur to Sukkot
Not coincidentally, the same time period marks the beginning of the construction of G-d’s sukkah, the mishkan, the sanctuary in the desert (Exodus [Shemot] 25:8-9). In Exodus 25:9, the word tabernacle is the word mishkan in Hebrew. According to tradition, Moses (Moshe) again ascended Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights to receive the second set of tablets and descended on Yom Kippur, carrying them as a sign of G-d’s forgiveness of Israel for the sin of the golden calf, and as a symbol of the lasting covenant between G-d and Israel (Exodus [Shemot] 24:12-18; 34:1-2; 27-28). The following day Moses (Moshe) relayed G-d’s instructions for building the mishkan — a dwelling place. Material for this portable structure was collected during the days before Sukkot, and work was begun on it (the mishkan or tabernacle) (Exodus [Shemot] 35; 36:1-7).
Why was the mishkan built? The Torah says, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus [Shemot] 25:8); to establish the relationship between G-d and Israel, G-d would dwell amidst the people. Therefore the mishkan, the tabernacle in the wilderness, was instructed to be built by G-d for Him so He could dwell with His people.
The Sukkah and the Clouds of Glory
The Sukkah reminds us of the clouds of glory that surrounded Israel during their wandering through the desert on the way to the Promised Land. Everybody then saw the special Divine protection that G-d bestowed upon Israel during those difficult years. As it is written in Exodus (Shemot) 13:21, “And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night” (NAS).
Spiritual Application (Halacha). G-d desired that the tabernacle in the wilderness be built because He wanted to dwell with His people (Exodus [Shemot] 29:44-45). Spiritually speaking, this physical tabernacle was given by G-d to teach and instruct us that He desires to live and dwell with His people by means of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:1). The clouds represent the believers in Yeshua (Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 1:7).
Sukkot: Names, Themes, and Idioms
- The Season of Our Joy
- The Festival of Ingathering
- The Feast of the Nations
- The Festival of Dedication
- The Festival of Lights
Understanding Sukkot: The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) completes the sacred festivals of the seventh month. In contrast to the somber tone of Rosh HaShanah and the Day of Atonement, the third feast of Tishrei was a time of joy. Israel had passed through the season of repentance and redemption.
Sukkot is called the “Season of Our Joy.” One reason Sukkot was a time of joy was that after the season of repentance (Teshuvah) and the redemption of Yom Kippur came the joy of knowing your sins were forgiven and the joy of walking with G-d, knowing G-d, and being obedient to G-d. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the days in the wilderness of Sinai after coming out of Egypt (Mitzayim). According to all natural laws, they (the Israelites) should have perished, but were instead divinely protected by G-d. Prophetically, Sukkot is the festival that teaches on the Messianic Kingdom and the joy of that Kingdom.
As mentioned earlier in this book, the Hebrew word chag comes from the Hebrew root word chagag, which means “to move in a circle, to march in a sacred procession, to celebrate or dance.” The joy of Sukkot was so great that it became known as “The Feast.” In non-Jewish circles, Sukkot is known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The word tabernacle refers to a temporary dwelling place, which is the purpose of the sukkah.
Spiritual Application (Halacha). The sukkah or booth, symbolizes man’s need to depend upon G-d for his provision of food, water, and shelter. This is true in the spiritual realm as well. The booth is the physical body, which is a temporary dwelling place for our souls and spirits (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We need the food that the Word of G-d provides (Matthew 6:11; 4:4; John 6:33-35); the cleansing, rinsing, and washing that the Word of G-d brings to our lives (Ephesians 5:26); and the shelter of G-d’s protection over our lives from the evil one (Matthew 6:13; Psalm [Tehillim] 91). Our physical needs will be provided for by G-d if we seek Him spiritually (Matthew [Mattityahu] 6:31-33).
The observance of Sukkot described in Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:40-41 can be seen in Nehemiah (Nechemiah) chapter 8. The temporary dwellings or booths are described as a part of the festival. This is in remembrance of when the children of Israel dwelled in booths during their time in the wilderness (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:43).
Isaiah talked about the sukkah in Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:4-6. The divine order declares that after judgment, Yom Kippur (Isaiah 4:4) comes Sukkot (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 4:5-6). The command to rejoice at this time is given in Deuteronomy (Devarim) 16:13-15.
A sukkah is a temporary dwelling place. In First Kings (Melachim) 8:27 (NAS), at the dedication of Solomon’s temple during the festival of Sukkot, Solomon asks, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth?”
The Scriptures say that Yeshua became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us (John [Yochanan] 1:14). He came to earth at His first coming and temporarily dwelt among men.
The Covering of the Sukkah
Sukkot is a remembrance of the time in the wilderness when G-d protected, led, and sustained the children of Israel in the wilderness. The wilderness experience was a picture of the Millennium because there was a supernatural environment for the people in the wilderness. The covering was the cloud (Exodus [Shemot] 13:17-22; 14:16-20; 16:10; 19:1,9,16; 24:12-16; 40:1-2,35-38). This is known spiritually as the immersion (baptism) into the cloud (1 Corinthians 10:1-2; Hebrews 6:1-2). The cloud was a covering shelter and protection by day, and was a pillar of fire by night. It was warmth, light, and protection.
Spiritual Understanding (Halacha). The cloud was seen as a chupah, a wedding canopy. In Daniel 7:13 it is written, “.. .the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven….” This is also mentioned in Revelation 1:7-8 and Jude 14. Here we see that the clouds are the believers in Messiah or the righteous (tzaddikim). The same can be seen in Hebrews 12:1. Also look at Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 60:8 and Acts 1:9-12.
Remember; the cloud does not only refer to the believers in the Messiah, but was also seen as a chupah, a wedding canopy. In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:2, it speaks of the branch of the L-rd. This is defined in Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 11:1 as being Yeshua. In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 11:1, the Hebrew word netser is a masculine form translated as “branch.” In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:2, the Hebrew word translated as branch is tzemach, which is neuter. We can see from this that a marriage is being performed. This is very clear in Jeremiah (Yermiyahu) 23:5-6; 33:15-16.
In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:5 it is written, “…for upon all the glory shall be a defence [chupah, or wedding canopy].” Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:2-6 connects the branch in verse 23 with the cloud in verses 5-6 and the duty that is performed in the wilderness. Isaiah is talking how this would happen during the Messianic Kingdom (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 2:2-4; 4:2-3). Those written among the living in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) actually have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; Philippians 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Psalm [Tehillim] 69:28; Exodus [Shemot] 32:31-33).
In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:2, it speaks of the fruit of the earth and those who have escaped. Sukkot (Tabernacles) is known as the festival of ingathering and the fruit harvest. In Revelation 7:9-17, we can see those who have come through the great tribulation period (the birthpangs of the Messiah or Chevlai shel Mashiach) and who became believers in the Messiah during that time (Revelation 7:14). In Revelation 7:15, they “dwell” with them.
This Greek word, sk’enos, means “tabernacle, booth, shelter, or covering.” This also appears in Revelation 21:3. This same word, sk’enos, which means “tabernacle” or “booth” in Greek, is used to speak of Yeshua during His first coming (John [Yochanan] 1:14). Notice the protection provided in Revelation 7:16, corresponding to Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:5-6, and the fountain of living waters in Revelation 7:17 and 21:4. In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 4:3, it is written “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy…” (also see Zechariah 14:4,6-9,16-17,20-21). Those who are called “holiness unto the Lord” in Zechariah 14:20 are the same people in Isaiah 4:3 who are called holy.
The clouds in the wilderness are called “the clouds of glory” and the wilderness experience is a picture of the future Messianic age, the Millennium. The sukkah was built to teach and understand the thousand-year millennial reign of the Messiah, the Messianic age, the Millennium, or the Athid Lavo in Hebrew eschatology.
Understanding the Meaning of Booths/Tabernacles
The Hebrew word for tabernacle is sukkah. It means “a booth, a hut, a covering, a pavilion or tent.” The Greek word for tabernacle is sk’en’e, which also means “a tent, hut, or habitation.”
With this in mind, let’s look at the context by which the word tabernacle is used in the New Covenant (Brit Hadashah).
- Yeshua tabernacled (sukkot) among us (John [Yochanan] 1:14).
- Peter (Kefa) spoke about his body being a tabernacle (2 Peter [Kefa] 1:13-14).
- The apostle Paul (Rav Sha’ul) told us that our earthly bodies were earthly houses or tabernacles (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
- The tabernacle of Moses (Moshe) was a tent of habitation (Acts 7:44; Hebrews 9:2-8).
- Abraham (Avraham), Isaac (Yitzchak), and Jacob (Ya’akov) lived in tabernacles (tents) (Hebrews 11:8-9).
- The tabernacle of David was a tent or dwelling place (Acts 15:16; Amos 9:11). This tabernacle was the temple of Solomon (1 Kings [Melachim] 5:2-5; 8:1-21).
- Yeshua entered the temple on the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) (John [Yochanan] 7:2,27-29).
- The Bible speaks of a heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2; Revelation 13:6; 15:5). This heavenly tabernacle will come to earth (Revelation 21:1-3).
- Yeshua was the true tabernacle of G-d (Hebrews 9:11).
So, the booth or sukkah was a temporary dwelling place. Historically, it was to remind the people of their exodus from Egypt (Mitzrayim) as described in Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:42-43. Prophetically, the sukkah points toward the future to the Messianic age, the Millennium. Spiritually, a sukkah is supposed to remind us that we are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth, this being a temporary dwelling place. So the believer in Messiah is but a stranger and pilgrim on this earth (Hebrews 11:8-10,13-16; Genesis [Bereishit] 23:3-4; 47:9; 1 Chronicles [Divery Hayamim] 29:10,15; Psalm (Tehillim) 39:12; 119:19; 1 Peter [Kefa] 1:17; 2:11).
To the believer in Yeshua, our earthly physical body is only a temporary tabernacle. At the coming of Messiah, we will receive a new and heavenly house, a glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:39-44,51-57; 2 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
The Festival of Ingathering
Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the fall harvest festival. It begins on the fifteenth of the Hebrew month of Tishrei and concludes on the twenty-second with Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, also called the eighth day, the rejoicing in the Torah. Shemini Atzeret functions as the conclusion of Sukkot, but it is also a separate festival (this will be discussed in the following chapter).
Like the other pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot [tabernacles] has an agricultural element. It marks the time of the harvest, the final ingathering of produce before the oncoming winter. Hence, it is also called Hag HaAsif, the festival of Ingathering. As it is written, “You shall celebrate the Festival of In-gathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field” (Exodus [Shemot] 23:16).
Sukkot is the time when the produce of the field, orchard, and vineyard is gathered in. The granaries, threshing floors, and wine and olive presses are full to capacity. Weeks and months of toil and sweat put into the soil have finally been amply rewarded. The farmer feels happy and elated. No wonder Sukkot is “The Season of Rejoicing.” While all of the three pilgrimages are times of rejoicing, Sukkot (Tabernacles) is specifically designated as Zeman simchatenu, the season of our rejoicing.
s part of Hachnasat Orechim, the mitzvah of hospitality, there is a custom of inviting ushpizin, symbolic guests, each day to join (the family) in the Sukkah. These honorary guests are Abraham (Avraham), Isaac (Yitzchak), Jacob (Ya’akov), Joseph (Yosef), Moses (Moshe), Aaron (Ahrahon), and David. One is invited each day.
Spiritual Application (Halacha). As stated earlier; Sukkot (Tabernacles) is called the Feast of Ingathering. Yeshua told us that the harvest represents the end of the age (Olam Hazeh). This is found in (Matthew [Mattityahu] 13:39; Revelation 14:15; Joel [Yoel] 3:13). The harvest refers more specifically to people who choose to accept the Messiah Yeshua into their hearts and lives (Matthew [Mattityahu] 9:35-38; Luke 10:1-2; John [Yochanan] 4:35-38; Revelation 14:14-18). G-d is gathering both Jews and non-Jews together to accept the Messiah Yeshua into their lives. Most of the people on earth have not accepted Yeshua into their lives and are in the valley of decision (Joel [Yoel] 3:13-14). What is your decision? Will you accept the Messiah Yeshua into your life?
Jeremiah (Yermiyahu) sorrowed for a people who were not a part of the harvest in Jeremiah (Yermiyahu) 8:18-22. In Jeremiah 8:20 it is written, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” To those who do accept the Messiah, you will experience the real Sukkot (Tabernacles) during the Messianic age, the Millennium. Both Jew and non-Jew will live in the Messianic Kingdom. There will also be immortal people such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. There will be mortal people as well who will live with them. The mortal people who will be there are the people who lived through the seven-year tribulation period, the birthpangs of the Messiah, or the Chevlai shel Mashiach, and who accepted Yeshua into their hearts and lives. What a joy it will be living with the Messiah during the Messianic era!
The Feast of Dedication
King Solomon (Shlomo) dedicated the temple (Beit HaMikdash) during Sukkot (Tabernacles) (1 Kings 3). Therefore, this festival is also called the Feast of Dedication. It was celebrated after the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 3:1-4).
The Feast of the Nations
Another name for the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the Feast of the Nations. Sukkot (Tabernacles) will be celebrated by all the nations on earth during the Messianic age, the Millennium (Zechariah 14:16-18). The future observance of Sukkot by the nations of the world rests upon Israel’s election and mission. The universal concern of G-d’s plan for the Jewish people reaches back to the covenant with Abraham (Avraham). In that agreement, G-d promised in Genesis (Bereishit) 12:3, as it is written, “…all families of the earth [shall] be blessed [through his seed].” From Abraham (Avraham), G-d would raise up a people, Israel, to be a blessing to the nations. That promise was fulfilled through Yeshua, the Messiah, as stated in Galatians 3:8,14,16,29. In fact, the greatest evangelism in the history of the world will be by 144,000 anointed Jews of G-d proclaiming the gospel (basar) of the Kingdom of Heaven through Yeshua HaMashiach (Revelation 14:1-7).
A fascinating and mysterious pattern emerges from the seemingly endless list of sacrifices found in Numbers (Bamidbar) 29:12-35. During the week of Sukkot (Tabernacles), 70 bullocks were offered on the altar. The connection of the 70 bulls to the 70 nations is taken from Deuteronomy (Devarim) 32:8; Genesis (Bereishit) 46:27; and Exodus (Shemot) 1:1-5. Once again, the association of the nations of the world to Sukkot (Tabernacles) is found in Zechariah 14:16-19.
When Jacob (Ya’akov) and his family went to Egypt (Mitzrayim), there were 70 people who went, and it was there that they became a nation. The nations of the world are associated with Sukkot (Tabernacles) in First Kings (Melachim) 8:41-43 when Solomon dedicated the temple (Beit HaMikdash) during Sukkot (Tabernacles). For this reason, the festival is also called the Feast of the Nations.
Another fascinating thing about the sacrifices during Sukkot (Tabernacles) is that when the offerings are grouped or counted, their number always remains divisible by seven. During the week, there are 182 sacrifices (70 bullocks, 14 rams, and 98 lambs; 7 divides into 182 exactly 26 times). Add to this the meal offerings, 336 tenths of ephahs of flour (48 x 7) (Numbers [Bamidbar] 29:12-40). It is no coincidence that this seven-day holiday, which takes place at the height of the seventh month, had the perfect number, seven, imprinted on its sacrifices.
Sukkot is a picture of the Messianic Kingdom (thousand-year reign of the Messiah) as the joy, and the number seven was connected to the sabbath, which was also seen as a picture of the Messianic Kingdom. The sabbath (shabbat) falls on the seventh day of the week.
Although G-d is concerned for the universal redemption of the nations, those nations who do not turn to G-d will be judged. Either they will not receive rain (Zechariah 14:1-9,16-18), or rain will destroy them and be a curse upon them (Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 38:22-23). This is why the traditional Bible reading for the second day of Sukkot is Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 38:14 to 39:16.
The Four Species (Arba Minim)
In Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:40, it is written, “On the first day you shall take the product of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafs trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the L-rd your G-d seven days.”
The four species are also called the Lulav and Etrog (the palm branches and citron). So, “the product of goodly trees” is interpreted by the rabbis to refer specifically to an etrog (citron), and the branches, “boughs of leafy trees,” and “willows of the brook” have been interpreted as a lulav (palm branch), hadasim (myrtle), and aravot (willows), respectively.
Whether or not Sukkot (Tabernacles) was regularly celebrated during the period of the first temple (Beit HaMikdash) is not clear. After the return from Babylon, Nehemiah (Nechemiah) wrote that from the days of Joshua’s (Yehoshua) crossing into the land of Israel until his own day, the children of Israel had not built the huts of Sukkot (Nehemiah [Nechemiah] 8:17). But from Nehemiah’s day forward, the festival was celebrated during the time of the second temple (Beit HaMikdash). Each celebrant brought an etrog or citron, the yellow citrus fruit that is about the same size as a lemon, but sweeter and spicier to serve as the “fruit of goodly trees” that is mentioned in Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:40. Each brought as well the branches of a palm, of a myrtle, and of a willow. The three branches were held in the right hand and the etrog on the left, and they were brought together to be waved east, south, west, north, up, and down. Since the palm branch, or lulav, was the stiffest and the most prominent element of the four species, the whole ceremony was called the waving of the lulav.
The four plants are also used during the Sukkot holiday in making a hakafa (circuit) around the congregation standing in the synagogue. The cantor leads the procession, and each man who has a lulav and etrog follows behind him. During the procession, the cantor recites the Hoshanah prayers, asking for blessings on the land and fruit of Israel.
Spiritual Application (Halacha). As part of the Feast of Ingathering, palm branches, myrtle branches, and willow branches are collected and held in the right hand (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:40). A fourth entity, the etrog, representing the Gentiles or non-Jewish believers, is also gathered. These four species are used in a ceremony for Sukkot (Tabernacles). At the start of the ceremony, the etrog is upside down. The spiritual meaning is, before we came to G-d, we were in a state of being upside down. Through the ceremony, it is turned right side up and joined to the other three. This represents a marriage that is taking place. After we are turned right side up and turn to G-d, we later are joined to Him in marriage.
In Deuteronomy (Devarim) 16:14, the etrog also represents the stranger; The stranger is the Gentile who has joined himself to Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13). This is symbolic of the great congregation of non-Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua.
The Celebration of Water Pouring?(Simchat Beit HaShoevah)
Simchat Beit HaShoevah, the rejoicing in the house of the water pouring, is a ceremony included in the temple (Beit HaMikdash) services not mentioned in the Torah, but given in the Mishnah (Succah 5). The water pouring became a focus of the joy that the Torah commands for Sukkot. On no other festival were the people commanded to be joyful, and as a result Sukkot (Tabernacles) became known as “the season of our joy,” just as Passover (Pesach) is “the season of our freedom” and Shavout (Pentecost) is “the season of the giving of the Torah.”
It is written in the Mishah, that the ritual became elaborated into a colorful and joyous, even riotous, celebration called Simchat Beit HaShoevah, “the rejoicing at the house of the water-drawing.” This ceremony took place every day except for the first festival day of Sukkot. The Talmud (in Sukkah 5:1a-b) describes this ceremony in detail, including a portrait of venerable sages juggling lighted torches and performing somersaults as part of the celebration. The Talmud states, “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the place of the water-drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life.” So, the water pouring ceremony became the occasion for an outpouring of intense joy.
The Daily Sukkot Ceremony
Each day out of the temple (Beit HaMikdash), there was a special ceremony. The priests were divided into three divisions. The first division were the priests on duty for that festival. They would slay the sacrifices found in Numbers (Bamidbar) 29. At this time, a second group of priests went out the eastern gate of the temple (Beit HaMikdash) and went to the Motzah Valley, where the ashes were dumped at the beginning of the sabbath. There they would cut willows. The willows had to be 25 feet in length. After this, they would form a line with all the priests holding a willow. About 25 or 30 feet behind this row of priests, allowing room for the willows, would be another row of priests with willows. So, there would be row after row of the willows.
The whole road back to the temple (Beit HaMikdash) was lined with pilgrims as they went to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) to celebrate the festival as they were commanded by G-d to do. Sukkot (Tabernacles), along with Shavuot (Pentecost), and Passover (Pesach), were known as the pilgrimage festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16).
There would be a signal and the priests would step out with their left foot, and then step to the right, swinging the willows back and forth. Meanwhile, a third group of priests, headed by the high priest (Cohen HaGadol), went out the gate known as the Water Gate. They had gone to the pool known as “Siloam” (John [Yochanan] 9:7,11), which means “gently flowing waters.” There the high priest had a golden vase and drew the water known as the living water (mayim hayim) and held it in the vase. His assistant held a silver vase containing wine. Just as the priests in the valley of Motzah began to march toward Jerusalem (Yerushalayim), so did the priests in Siloam. As they marched toward the city of Jerusalem (Yerushalayim), the willows made a swishing sound in the wind as they approached the city. The word wind in Hebrew is Ruach. The word spirit in Hebrew is also Ruach. Therefore, this ceremony was symbolic or representative of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) of G-d coming upon the city of Jerusalem (Yerushalayim).
As each of the party reached their respective gates, a trumpet (shofar) was blown. Then one man would stand up and play the flute (the flute represents the Messiah). The flute player is called “the pierced one.” The flute is pierced, and Yeshua was pierced during the crucifixion (Psalm [Tehillim] 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; John [Yochanan] 19:34-37; Revelation 1:7).
The flute player led the procession. The pierced one blows the call for the wind and the water to enter the temple. The priests from Motzah swishing the willows come into the temple (Beit HaMikdash) and circle the altar seven times. The priests that were slaying the sacrifices are now ascending the altar, and they begin to lay the sacrifices on the fires. The high priest and his assistant ascend the altar and all the people of Israel are gathered into the courts around there. The people start singing the song Mayim, saying, “With joy we will draw water out of the well of salvation [Yeshua]” (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 12:3; Mishnah, Sukkot 5:1). The high priest takes his vase and pours its contents on one of the comers of the altar where the horns are. There are two bowls built into the altar. Each bowl has a hole in it. The water and the wine are poured out over the altar as the priests who had the willow start laying the willows against the altar, making a sukkah (a picture of G-d’s covering).
Messianic Understanding. In this, we have a picture of Yeshua as He was on the tree. He was on the altar (tree) when His heart was pierced (John [Yochanan] 19:34), then the water and the blood separated and they were poured out. G-d through Yeshua was providing a covering (sukkah) for all those who would believe in Him.
Wine is representative of marriage, blood, covenant, joy, and the Messiah in Scripture. The priests took the willows to the altar and set them upright on the side of the altar, forming a wedding canopy or chupah. The high priest will take his golden vessel and pour out the water on the altar. The assistant will pour out his silver vessel of wine on the altar. When Yeshua was crucified on the tree (a type of altar), His side was pierced and out of His heart poured water and blood (John [Yochanan] 19:34). Yeshua said that He was the living water being poured out during this ceremony (John [Yochanan] 7:2, 37-38).
Spiritual Application (Halacha). During the time of Yeshua, the Feast of Sukkot set a magnificent stage for the preaching of the Messiah. Rain is essential to the growing of crops and Israel, an arid land, prizes rain greatly as a blessing from G-d.
Rain was a prominent feature in the celebration of the Feast of Sukkot. The ceremony of the water drawing held a significance much deeper than its agricultural implications. The rain represented the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) and the water drawing pointed to that day when, according to the prophet Joel [Yoel], G-d would rain His Spirit upon (all flesh) (Joel [Yoel] 2:28-29). The connection of water to this verse is G-d pouring out His Spirit. In the Talmud we read, “Why is the name of it called the drawing out of water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said, ‘With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation'” (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 12:3).
Sukkot was given by G-d to teach us of the Messianic era, the Millennium, when the earth will experience the greatest outpouring of G-d’s Spirit.
Hoshana Rabbah (The Great Salvation)
Hoshana Rabbah (literally, the great hosanna or the numerous hosannas) is the seventh day of Sukkot (Tabernacles). Hoshana Rabbah should have been a full festival day, but is not because of Shemini Atzeret, which follows it. However, it has some special rituals and customs that make the day more like a full festival day than any of the intermediate days. The most important of these (ceremonies) are:
- The circling of the altar seven times instead of once while carrying the four species and reciting the Hoshana prayers.
- The beating of the willows.
Messianic Understanding. In John (Yochanan) 7:37-38, Yeshua said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
At this season of Sukkot, Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 12:3 was often quoted, as it is written, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Yeshua in Hebrew means “salvation.”
The drama of the water drawing ceremony took on a new dimension of meaning when Yeshua attended the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles). On the seventh day of the feast, Hoshana Rabbah, which literally means “the great hosanna, the great salvation,” the festival activities were different from those of each of the six previous days when the priests circled the altar in a procession, singing Psalm (Tehillim) 118:25. On the seventh day of the feast, the people circled the altar seven times. That is why the day is called Hoshanah Rabbah, as the cry, “Save now!” was repeated seven times. Yeshua’s statement in John (Yochanan) 7:37-39 was said on Hoshana Rabbah.
Spiritual Application (Halacha). Spiritually speaking, in the Bible, there is a link between water and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). Yeshua told the woman at the well to drink of living water (John [Yochanan] 4:7-14; 6:35; Matthew [Mattityahu] 5:6). This relationship between water and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) is contained in the symbolism of pouring out water. Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 44:3 links the pouring out of water with the pouring out of G-d’s Spirit. Isaiah (Yeshayahu) parallels the thirsty land and links water with the Holy Spirit. The link can also be seen in Joel (Yoel) 2:23,28; Acts 2:1-4,14-17; and Ezekiel (Yechezekel) 39:22,27-29. Zechariah 14:8 speaks of living waters. Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 12:2-3 speaks of drawing water out of the wells of salvation. Water and the Spirit are connected in Psalm (Tehillim) 42:1-4; Zechariah 13:1; and Revelation 7:17. It can also be seen in Ezekiel (Yechezekel) 36:24-27.
Yeshua was trying to communicate this to Nicodemus (Nakdimon) in John (Yochanan) 3:1-6. He also was teaching this during the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) in John (Yochanan) 4:14, which concluded with His statements in John 7:37-39. At the ceremony of the water drawing, the people’s attention was focused on the pool of Siloam. It was here that Yeshua healed a man who had been blind from birth (John [Yochanan] 9:1-7). Notice again the statement in John 9:5. This is the last day of the feast (Hoshana Rabbah) (John 9:14; Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:34-36).
The Festival of Lights (The Light of the Temple)
Another ceremony of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) was the illumination of the temple (Beit HaMikdash). According to the Mishnah, at the end of the first day of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the priests and the Levites went down to the court of the women. Four enormous golden candlesticks were set up on the court (50 cubits high) with four golden bowls placed upon them and four ladders resting against each candlestick. Four youths of priestly descent stood at the top of the ladders holding jars containing about 7.5 gallons of pure oil, which they poured for each bowl (Mishnah, Sukkah 5:2). The priests and Levites used their own worn-out liturgical clothing for wicks. The light emanating from the four candelabras was so bright that the Mishnah says in Sukkah 5:3 that there was no courtyard in Jerusalem [Yerushalayim] that was not lit up with the light of the libation water-well ceremony (Beit Hashoevah).
The mood was festive. Pious men, members of the San Hedrin, and heads of different religious schools would dance well into the night, holding bright torches and singing psalms of praise to G-d. Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) glistened like a diamond that night and her light could be seen from afar.
Spiritual Application (Halacha). Spiritually speaking, the light represented the shekinah glory that once filled the temple where G-d’s presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezekiel 43:5). During this time, the temple (Beit HaMikdash) was thought of as “the light of the world.” In the brilliance of this gloriously lit temple, Yeshua cried in John (Yochanan) 8:12 that He was “the light of the world.”
In addition, during this festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) and this time, in the court of the women of the temple between the four posts of light, the accusers brought to Yeshua the woman caught in the act of adultery (John [Yochanan] 8:1-11). Yeshua forgave the woman and proceeded to write a message on the ground (John [Yochanan] 8:5-9). What did Yeshua write? The answer is in Jeremiah 17:13. In these things, we can see that Yeshua taught the people the messages of the festivals during the festivals.
Israel: A Light (Witness) to the Nations
Israel was chosen to be G-d’s light to the world (Deuteronomy [Devarim] 7:6-8). The mission that G-d chose for Israel was one of service to G-d. The reason is very simple. G-d wanted a people out of the world whom He could use and work through to show His glory to the world. That is why He chose Israel and that is what every follower of the Messiah is chosen to be. In doing so, G-d could reveal His redemptive plan to the whole world so the world could see that G-d and His Messiah Yeshua are light (John 1:1-4; 1 John 1:5). Israel was to be a witness (light) to the world. This can be seen in the following Scriptures: Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 43:1,10,12,14; Luke 24:44-49; and Acts 1:1-8. Israel’s mission was to proclaim to the world that the G-d of Israel is the only true G-d and there is no other Savior but He (Acts 4:10,12).
Israel as a corporate nation failed in her mission to be a witness to the world. Not only were the people disobedient to the commandment of G-d, but they also did not become a light to the world. On the contrary, the world as a corporate people have always hated the Jewish people.
As individual members who believed and followed after G-d, the Jewish people were faithful to their task. We only need to consider the faithfulness of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the prophets, and the kings such as David and Solomon. In fact, consider the very Bible which you are able to read today; it was written by faithful Jewish servants of G-d led by the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) of G-d. Most of all, the greatest light and witness the world has ever known was Jewish. His name is Yeshua, the Messiah! Because Israel birthed the Messiah, they, in essence, have been a blessing to all nations through Him (Genesis [Bereishit] 12:3; Galatians 3:8,14,16,29).
Although Israel corporately failed in her mission, this is not a permanent failure. It is a temporary setback to her destiny of being a blessing to all nations, which will be accomplished during the thousand-year reign of the Messiah known as the Messianic Kingdom or the Messianic age. Israel still remains G-d’s chosen people (Romans 11:25-29), and still has a role to play in the future of the world (Romans 11:12,15). The prophet Isaiah (Yeshayahu) spoke of a future time when Israel would be used by G-d to bring the message of Messiah to the nations, for the nation of Israel will have a central part in the thousand-year reign of the Messiah (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 62:1-5). Israel will be a blessing to all nations at this time (Malachi 3:12; Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 34:23-30; Zechariah 8:11-15; Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 19:23-25). Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) will be the spiritual focal point of the world and this time will be Israel’s “Golden Age,” during the Messianic era, because the King of Jerusalem, the Prince of Peace, will reign in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 2:2-4; 52:9-10; 62:7-8, Micah [Michah] 4:1-3; Psalm [Tehillim] 102:18-21; 125:1-2; 137:5-6). The day is coming when a restored and renewed Israel will once again be a light to the nations, for the destiny of Israel is linked to the destiny of the world!
Spiritual Significance of the Feast of Sukkot
One of the most outstanding truths of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) involves the seasonal rains in Israel. The prophet Joel (Yoel) tells us that the former and latter rain would come in the first month (Joel [Yoel] 2:23). This is because Passover (Pesach) is the first month in the religious or sacred calendar, and Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the first month in the civil calendar. So Israel has two first months in the same year because of the special calendar that G-d set up in Exodus (Shemot) 12:2.
Hosea (Hoshea) 6:3 tells us that the coming of the Messiah will be as the former and latter rain on the earth. We just saw in the previous section that Yeshua came to earth (was born) during the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the first month of the civil calendar, and died at His first coming during the first month (Nisan) on the sacred calendar. His second coming will also be in the first month of the civil calendar, Tishrei. Yeshua will return to earth during the fall of the year.
G-d promised Israel that upon their obedience to the covenant He made with them at Mount Sinai (Exodus [Shemot] 34:10; Deuteronomy [Devarim] 5:2; 29:12-15), that He would give them the rains in their due season (Deuteronomy [Devarim] 11:10-17). No rain was a sign of judgment and the curse of G-d on the land as well as on the people (l Kings [Melachim] 8:33-43; 17:1-7; 18:41-46; Proverbs [Mishlai] 16:15; Amos 4:6-13; Joel [Yoel] 1:10-12). Today, the land of Israel is becoming green once again (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 35:1; Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 36:24-38; Joel [Yoel] 2:18-27).
The rain is a type of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) being poured out upon all flesh (Acts 2:1-8,14-21; Joel [Yoel] 2:23,28-29). The Word of G-d (Torah) is likened to the rain (Deuteronomy [Devarim] 32:1-3; Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 55:8-12; Ephesians 5:26). The Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) is also likened to the rain (Joel [Yoel] 2:21-32; Acts 2:1-8,14-21; James 5:7; John 7:37-39). Rain is associated with righteousness in Hosea (Hoshea) 10:12. G-d has made His righteousness available for all who believe on the Messiah (Romans 3:21-22; 5:17).
Yeshua is the rain that came down from Heaven as well as the living water and the fountain of living water spoken of in John (Yochanan) 4:4-6,10-14,20-24; and Revelation 21:6 and 22:1-5,17. Yeshua desires that we drink of the water He gives, which results in everlasting life (John 4:14) that we might be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Rain also speaks of revival, restoration, and returning to G-d (Teshuvah) and trusting (emunah) in Him. Just as the rain came after Elijah prayed seven times for it (1 Kings [Melachim] 18:41-46), the great rain or outpouring of G-d’s Holy Spirit will come when the believers in the Messiah will earnestly pray to G-d that it be done. G-d has already declared that He would pour out His Holy Spirit during the seventh month, which is a spiritual picture of the end of the age (Olam Hazeh). So far, we have for the most part seen only showers of blessing (Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 34:26). The greatest outpouring of G-d’s Spirit is yet to come. The feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) and the rain speaks of a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit of G-d, a universal outpouring of His Spirit. This outpouring will be accompanied by signs and wonders and manifestations of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) as well as a revelation and illumination of the Word of G-d beyond all that has ever been seen in the history of the congregation of believers (kehilat) in the Messiah. This outpouring will touch every nation, both Jew and non-Jew. The believer in the Messiah who is living at the time of the latter rain is called to seek the L-rd and ask Him to send rain on the people of the earth (Zechariah 10:1; Psalm [Tehillim] 46:4; 65:9-10; Jeremiah [Yermiyahu] 5:23-24; 31:10-14).
The fullness of this feast in the seventh month will be experienced at the coming of the Messiah when He will rule and reign on the earth during the Messianic age, the Millennium, called the Athid Lavo in Hebrew eschatology. This time will be a time of joy for all believers in the Messiah Yeshua and will be the age of Israel’s glory.
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah Reading Cycle
Gen 11 | Judges 1-2 | Ps 23-25 | Mat 14:22-15:39
The Postdiluvian Rebellion (Genesis 11)
When Noah and his family disembarked from the ark, God said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1 KJV), and the words suggest that God intended the people to diffuse themselves widely over the land. When they came to Shinar, or Mesopotamia, the people made a fateful decision. They decided to gather together to build large cities, contrary to God’s original intent. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (11:4). The statement is revealing on several levels. It reveals that the express purpose for building the city and the tower was to prevent wide population dispersion. The design to build a tower (probably some type of ziggurat or pyramid) indicates that concentration of population would be achieved through highly organized governmental projects. History provides evidence of a centralization of religious authority as well. And the phrase “let us make a name for ourselves” is an idiomatic way of saying “let us get power over others.” Furthermore, the choice of a tower whose top is in the heavens may indicate a deliberate disbelief in God’s promise to not send another great flood, effectively calling God a liar. Thus, we see the formation of a political and religious power center, opposed to God’s will and using its power to dominate others. It appears that the leader of this effort was Nimrod, who built an empire from here (10:8-12).
Verse 5 tells us that God “came down” to see the city and the tower. Besides its literal meaning, when God is said to “come down” it is frequently a way of expressing impending judgment (compare Genesis 18:21; Exodus 3:8; 2 Samuel 22:10; Psalm 144:5; Isaiah 31:4; Jeremiah 21:13). It is a way of expressing the seriousness of the action as well as God’s personal involvement in the punishment. When God saw the work of the men He said, “Indeed, the people are one and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6). Man had once again decided to use his intellect and energies to live contrary to God. The last century bore stark witness to what human beings working together can do. Without God, evil permeates—and among wonderful technological advances comes also the ability to destroy the world. But God is never out of options. To end this ungodly effort, and to accomplish His purpose of widely dispersing men over the face of the earth and preventing rapid technological development that would lead to weapons of mass destruction sooner than His time frame allowed for, God confounded the language of men. And thus the name of this place is Babel, the first Babylon of history. As an aside, notice that God said the people, though many, were one—a plurality in unity, just as Elohim, the Hebrew word for God, indicates a plurality in unity.
Introduction to Judges (Judges 1)
The second book of the Prophets, Judges spans the approximately 325 years from the death of Joshua, some 25 years after Israel’s entry into the Promised Land, to shortly before the coronation of Israel’s first human king, Saul. Though it may have been written by various authors, adding to the storyline as events transpired—e.g., the Song of Deborah and the parable of Jotham—it was probably put into its final form by the last of the judges, Samuel, in the 11th century B.C. The Talmud states, “Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the book of Judges” (Baba Bathra 14b).
Moses and Joshua were, of course, the first of Israel’s judges. But once in the Promised Land, others followed. The judges were military men and governors whom God led to deliver Israel from foreign oppression and who then had a responsibility to “judge” the people in concert with the priests and Levites (Deuteronomy 17:8-9). Each judge acted in a capacity similar to the later kings of Israel, except no hereditary line was involved. No judge after Moses and Joshua exercised authority over all Israel, but each functioned within a limited geographical area for a particular period of time.
As for general themes, the book of Judges shows that Israel’s national existence depended on her obedience. In a monotonous cycle: Israel rebelled; God allowed them to be conquered by an enemy king; they were vassals to a foreign nation for a period of years; Israel cried to God; and God raised up a judge to deliver them. The cycle may be described as sin, servitude, supplication, salvation. (Notice that God always gave more years of peace than years of captivity—often at a five-to-one ratio.)
Judges also shows the necessity of right leadership. Each time God delivered Israel, He called a specific individual to lead them into battle, and to be judge over them when they were freed. And when that leader died, the nation returned to its apostasy (with the exception of Samuel, the last judge, whose situation was rather different, as we will later see).
Judges is a book about people set on “doing their own thing” (“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes”—Judges 21:25; also 17:6; 18:1; 19:1). The absence of a human monarch allowed the people a great deal of personal freedom. But such freedom without adherence to God’s moral instructions inevitably leads to anarchy and confusion. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries on Judges notes that the period of the Judges set the stage for the apostasy that later led to the national punishments God visited upon Israel and Judah. “Few periods in Israel’s eventful history are as important as the period of the judges. During these centuries the nation took the wrong turning that led to her downfall and near-destruction. The apostasy of the later generations has its origin in the early years of the settlement, and there is a clear line between the time when the nation first went after Baal and the dark age when the Jerusalem Temple itself was defiled with all the trappings of the Baal worship, not excluding cultic prostitutes (2 Kings 23:4-7)” (p. 11).
Because many of the tribes allowed Canaanites to continue to dwell in the land, the influence of Baal and Asherah worship retained a foothold. Worship of these pagan gods involved the most vile acts, including sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals. For these and other abominations, God would eventually send His people into captivity.
Bible scholars have a problem with Judges because “there is general agreement that the problem of harmonizing the chronological data presents insurmountable difficulty” (Soncino Commentary, introductory notes to Judges). Some 50 different methods of calculating the chronology of Judges have been offered. This is because many of the judgeships overlap, the last chapters of the book are out of sequence, and many scholars—dating Israel’s conquest of the land too late—do not allow the full amount of time between the conquest and the beginning of the monarchy.
Halfhearted Conquest (Judges 1)
After God had brought Israel out of Egypt, He told them that He would bring them into a blessed land whose inhabitants were to be utterly destroyed (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). Israel was to show no mercy, nor make any covenant with them. Nevertheless, God said He would not expel the Canaanites immediately, but would, little by little, drive them out before Israel, lest a sudden depopulation of the land be to Israel’s hurt (Exodus 23:29-30). This God would have done, if only Israel would have remained faithful to the task.
The business of conquering the land was begun under Joshua. All the days of his life it appears that the Israelites remained generally faithful to the task, though Joshua complained about their lack of zeal even during his lifetime (e.g., Joshua 18:3). But after Joshua died, Israel’s zeal definitely slackened. The people became more interested in enjoying God’s blessings (a settled life in a new land) and less interested in carrying out His directives (exterminating the Canaanites). Their shortsightedness would haunt the new nation throughout its entire history and ultimately lead to its downfall.
Judah and Simeon began well, working together to clear their inheritances of the Canaanites. Most of the highlands were secured for Judah and Simeon, but the Canaanites of the lowlands were better armed and resisted the two tribes. God was not willing to then remove those Canaanites. Instead, they would be removed later.
The people of Benjamin, however, were not so zealous. When they could not drive the Jebusites from Jerusalem—Jebusites who had been driven from the city by Judah, but then had returned to reinhabit it—the Benjamites did nothing. They did not seek assistance from their brother tribes but instead chose to allow the Jebusites to remain. Benjamin pursued the occupation of its territory halfheartedly, and the Jebusites would remain until David’s day.
The story was much the same with the other tribes. Ephraim and Manasseh left many Canaanites dwelling in their land. Asher did likewise. Naphtali followed suit, and Dan allowed itself to be driven away by the Canaanites who held its allotted territory. Thus the stage was set for a continual train of miseries. The halfhearted conquest would result in repeated wars, intertribal disputes, inefficient national government, frequent apostasies in which Canaanite religious practices were embraced, and, as a result, eventual expulsion from the land.
God never gives a command that cannot be followed, at least in the letter. Though the doing of the command might be difficult and may require considerable time and effort, the latter end always proves to be immeasurably better than the results of neglecting to obey the command.
As believers we have been given the command to fight the good fight of faith, pressing onward to receive our reward in the spiritual “Promised Land” of God’s Kingdom. It requires consistent and energetic effort, and there are always spiritual Canaanites who oppose us and attempt to drive us from our inheritance. How have you pursued your inheritance? Have you slacked off? Have you warred with half a heart? Are you willing to fellowship or run with spiritual Canaanites, not recognizing that to do so only means eventual expulsion from your inheritance? If so, now is the time to repent, redouble your efforts and make a good warfare. And while warring, do not forget to aid your brother as he strives for his inheritance also.
When Restraint Is Taken Away (Judges 2)
The halfhearted efforts of the Israelite tribes in dealing with the inhabitants of Canaan as God had instructed resulted in God’s refusal to drive out the remaining Canaanites. Instead, those Canaanites would be a continual source of misery and frustration for Israel. Yet when God told Israel that He would not drive out what Israel was only too willing to live with, all Israel could do was weep and sacrifice. They were unable to bring themselves to repentance. They were unable to rise up with one voice, confess their sin, and rededicate themselves to the prompt fulfilling of God’s command if He would grant them forgiveness.
This lamentable condition was the result of missing components in Israel’s character and government—components that are vital to any enterprise. The first component is strong, fearless, visionary leadership. Without leaders who are willing to lead, willing to set forth a vision and fearless in its pursuit, the people involved in the enterprise will limp along, wandering from pillar to post, never accomplishing any great thing. For Israel, the generation that went in to the Land of Promise under Joshua was a generation that had such leaders. Men like Joshua and Caleb, and the elders of Israel, though making occasional mistakes, were not afraid to lead. The vision was clearly laid out for them and they pursued it fearlessly, despite occasional errors.
But after Joshua and his generation died, the leaders who filled their offices were not cut from the same cloth. These men, and the people they led, “did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Now certainly they did know about God. They had been keeping His feasts, observing His Sabbaths, sacrificing at His tabernacle, and certainly they had heard the stories of the Exodus under Moses and the conquest begun under Joshua. These men, however, did not “know” the Lord nor His works in the sense of having personally experienced them.
These are the second and third necessary components to right character—a personal knowing of God and a sharp remembrance of His works. The second generation knew of God, but they did not personally know God; they had become lax in their spiritual condition. They knew of the Exodus, but they did not lay to heart the lessons of it. They knew of the conquest, but they had largely grown up during one of those tranquil periods in which God intended that Israel dwell in the land already conquered and build their strength for the next period of conquest.
A personal knowing of God, a remembrance of His works and strong, visionary and fearless leadership act as internal and external restraints on the carnal nature’s desire to let down, compromise and just make do. When any one of those three elements is missing, the people are loosed of restraint and end up living comfortably with sin. Israel’s second generation lacked those qualities, and as a result they did not pursue their God-given inheritance with vigor, but preferred to make do with what they had, to compromise and live with a certain amount of sin.
By not studying the Old Testament, people can slip into the same errors without realizing their predicament. Indeed, ancient Israel is supposed to be an example for us (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-9). As believers we cannot afford to make the same mistakes. Each of us must come to personally know God, to have real and daily experience of Him. Each of us must develop a sharp memory for what God has done for Israel and for us in our private lives. Leaders must lead. Do not be timid or fearful. A light yoke is laid upon each of us, therefore let us all work the harder that we may partake of a very bountiful harvest.
Psalm 23 is the “Shepherd Psalm”—the most famous, beloved, quoted and memorized psalm of all. It is short and simple but packed with great meaning. “One of the most common descriptions of kingship in the ancient world was that of shepherd” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Psalm 23)—wherein the king metaphorically serves as the shepherd of his “flock,” that is, of his people. Consider, for example, the crook or shepherd staff as one of the symbols of the Egyptian pharaoh. The rod was another important symbol of ancient kingship. Yet unlike the other national rulers of his day, David came to the job of king from the background of first actually having served as a literal shepherd of sheep. (It is interesting to recall that Moses too, though having previously been trained in the pharaonic court, tended flocks for 40 years before God used him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness.)
Besides political leaders, the “shepherd” metaphor in the Bible is also used for religious leaders, with some ministers in the New Testament being referred to as shepherds. (The word “pastor” means shepherd.) Yet we should recognize that all of God’s people are called to be humble, dedicated servants—leading by example today and preparing to rule with Christ in His Kingdom tomorrow.
The ultimate Leader, King and therefore Shepherd is, of course, God (see also Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:11-31; Micah 5:4). God in the person of Yeshua is later referred to as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30). In Psalm 23, David considers God in His role of Shepherd from the perspective of one who had taken care of his own literal flock. Yet the perspective within the psalm is not of a human shepherd but of a sheep within the flock of God, at least in the first four verses. From his own shepherding work, David well understood the needs, wants and concerns of sheep and drew parallels with his personal needs, wants and concerns. Likewise, a leader should always be trying to understand everything from the point of view of those being led, and try to do what is best for them, not what is beneficial for himself.
With God as his shepherd, David said his life would never be characterized by lack (verse 1). He trusted that all his needs would be met. He would not be left alone to struggle for the necessities of physical and spiritual life because God would provide them—He knows what and where is best for us (verse 2). God would always refresh and revive him, leading Him down the right paths (verse 3)—the literal concept here meaning the right paths for sheep to travel (e.g., so that they don’t fall off cliff edges and kill themselves or wander into other danger) but, metaphorically, denoting the proper paths of life (that is, people walking in God’s moral laws of righteousness).
Under the care of a competent shepherd, sheep proceed to good pastures without fear. “The valley of the shadow of death” in verse 4 is literally “the valley of death-darkness.” It gets very dark in the Judean ravines in late afternoon when the sun sinks below the hilltops. For us, the presence of the Shepherd’s rod and staff through any dark valley in life, when it is hard to see where we are going and can be rather frightening, is a reminder that “God’s comfort and strength are ‘with’ us in all kinds of darkness, in times of depression, serious illness, rejection by one’s friends, horror at discovering the disloyalty of one’s own heart, and so on, as well as the experience of death itself” (Knight, Psalms, comments on Psalm 23:1-6).
Why would the shepherd’s rod and staff provide comfort? A rod or club was used to defend against wild predators—just as God defends His people against natural or spiritual forces that seek their harm. It was also used as a disciplinary tool, perhaps even thrown at or near sheep to startle them away from danger (which was ultimately for its welfare and, thus, long-term comfort). A shepherd’s staff was used to guide the sheep and to rescue them, lifting them up out of dangerous situations when necessary. Even so does God lead and deliver His people.
With the rod and staff imagery, the metaphor appears to shift in focus from that of a shepherd of sheep to that of a Middle Eastern king or sheik—as ancient rulers of that region used both emblems. The next verse speaks of preparing a table in the presence of enemies (verse 5), as in the tent of a great patriarch or sheik in the midst of roving bands of pursuers. Sheep being protected from animal predators has become people being protected from human aggressors. And this security is found through the hospitality of a gracious host—accompanied by a banquet meal, perfumed oil and an overflowing cup of drink or blessings (same verse). Hospitality was and remains a major focus for such patriarchs and sheiks—as it is even more so for God.
It should be noted, however, that some view the imagery of verse 5 as still consistent with caring for sheep. The “table” is viewed as the highland plateaus, where pasturage is good in the summer. And anointment with oil is seen as a remedy against flies, insects and parasitic infection.
David describes his manifold blessings as goodness and mercy (hesed, “unfailing love”) following him—or, as he seems to mean, pursuing him (verse 6). That is, in God’s tent or God’s green pastures he is safe from enemies and totally secure in every way. The only thing pursuing him is goodness and mercy all the days of his life. The fact that blessings follow obedient people rather than precede them is significant. We must step out on faith and obey God even when we don’t see any rewards for a long time. They will come eventually. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” we are told (James 4:8). Once God calls us, He wants to see us take initiative.
David anticipates eternal life as he speaks of “dwelling in the house of the Lord forever” (verse 6). The Nelson’s Study Bible comments on verse 6, “God’s promise for the Israelites was not just for the enjoyment of life in the land of promise…it was also for the full enjoyment of the life to come in His blessed presence (16:9-11; 17:15; 49:15).”What an awesome privilege it is to be a sheep in God’s fold—to have the lavish invitation to dwell forever in the house of the omnipotent Shepherd-King.
To learn more about being a “good shepherd, read John 10:1-30.
David asks who is worthy to worship such a great Creator God (verse 3). Who could ascend to the tabernacle—or later temple—in Jerusalem? This recalls the theme of Psalm 15. “Together with Ps 15 it frames the intervening collection of psalms and with that psalm sharply delineates those who may approach God in prayer and ‘dwell in the house of the Lord’ (23:6…)” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 24).
“It may be that the instructions on moral purity were originally part of a ceremony before completing the last leg of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem [for the annual festivals]…. However….the hymn instructs God’s people wherever they may be to live in the presence of the Creator King in order to receive His blessing” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on verse 3).
Some commentators believe this psalm was composed by David to be sung by a procession of Israelites when the Ark of the Covenant was at last brought to Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 6). The mercy seat atop the ark was a physical representation of the throne of God on earth—so that the King of glory in verses 7-10 was represented by the ark. The King of glory here, the one the Israelites knew as God in the Old Testament who descended to the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, was the preincarnate Yeshua (see 1 Corinthians 10:4 and our booklet Who Is God?).
This would mean that the first part of the psalm concerns the preparation of those permitted to accompany the King of glory up His holy hill.
Continuing with a processional interpretation, many propose two choirs singing verses 7-10 as the ark reaches the gates of Jerusalem or the tabernacle. The first choir accompanying the ark says, “Lift up your heads, O you gates!” (verse 7). This addresses either the gates themselves in a personified sense or the gatekeepers—commanding the gates to be roused and at attention, to rejoice (being no more downcast apart from God’s presence), or to be lifted out of their locked position and opened. In any case, the gates opening up to receive the King of glory is implicit.
The second choir, stationed at the gates, intones, “Who is this King of Glory?” (verse 8)—to which choir one responds, “The Lord strong and…mighty in battle” (same verse). The sequence is then repeated (verses 9-10). Yet regarding the closing words of Psalm 24:10, George Knight in his Psalms commentary suggests: “Probably the whole concourse of priests and people now joyously shout these last two lines in one voice. ‘The Lord of hosts’ (meaning the armies both of Israel and of the heavenly beings) ‘that God is the King of glory!'”
“Let No One Who Waits on You Be Ashamed” (Psalms 25-27)
Psalm 25 begins “a group of nine psalms [ending with Psalm 33] containing an unusual (even for the Psalter) concentration of pleas for ‘mercy’ (25:16; 26:11; 27:7; 28:2; 30:8, 10; 31:9) accompanied by professions of ‘trust’ (25:2; 26:1; 27:3; 28:7; 31:6, 14; 32:10; 33:21) and appeals to or celebrations of Yahweh’s ‘(unfailing) love’ (25:6-7, 10; 26:3; 31:7, 16, 21; 32:10; 33:5, 18, 22). The series begins with an alphabetic acrostic prayer for God’s saving help (Ps 25) and culminates in a 22-verse (the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet) hymn of praise for Yahweh’s sovereign rule and saving help (Ps 33)” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalms 25-33).
Structurally, Psalm 25 itself “is an alphabetic acrostic (somewhat irregular, with an additional, concluding verse that extends the lines beyond the alphabet). It is composed of four unequal stanzas (of three, four, eight and six verses). The first and fourth stanzas are thematically related, as are the second and third (an a-b/b-a pattern)” (note on Psalm 25).
“David prays for God’s covenant mercies when suffering affliction for sins [verses 11, 18] and when enemies seize the occasion to attack [verses 2, 19], perhaps by trying to discredit the king through false accusations” (same note). This is a theme we have seen before. The prospect of experiencing shame from an enemy triumph concerns David greatly—he mentions “shame” four times in the psalm. Shame should not befall those who hope and trust in God but should fall instead on people who decide to “deal treacherously without a cause” (verse 3). “Shame is the intended end of the enemies of God (35:26)…not of the faithful” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 1-2).
David declares that because God is good and upright, He teaches sinners in His way (verse 8). But this is not so they can continue to live in sinful defiance of Him. Rather, He works with those who are humble and obedient (verses 9, 12). He will teach them a way of life characterized by justice, mercy, truth and prosperity (verses 8-10, 13). As Ezra 8:22 tells us, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.”
In summarizing his afflictions and troubles, David reminds God that his foes are cruel and he needs deliverance (verses 17-20). He concludes the psalm with a respectful declaration of hope, the same hope with which he began: “I wait for you” (verse 21; compare verse 3).
Even in this prayer for mercy and help for himself personally, David is not forgetful of others. In verse 22, which is outside the acrostic pattern of the psalm, he concludes with an intercessory prayer for his people. “David petitions the Lord to be compassionate with the nation Israel just as he has been with David. The Lord was not only the personal Savior of David, but also the Savior of all the Israelites” (Nelson, note on verse 22). Here, as in other references to Israel in the Psalms, we may look beyond the physical nation to the chosen people of God—ultimately all those who constitute spiritual Israel even if physically from other nations (see Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16).
26 the disciples saw him walking on the sea
Evidently, Yeshua was in a state where He could be seen at night across the waters. This may be compared to his appearance when seen with Moses and Elijah, in Matthew chapter 17.
His return is described as being in such radiance as well:
2 Thessalonians 2:8 – And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
30 he was afraid; and beginning to sink,
Peter was no doubt an expert swimmer, being a fisherman by trade. Why was he so fearful when he went under water only a few feet from the boat? Evidently, the plain meaning (p’shat) of the text may not tell the full story.
There is spiritual connotation to the water, especially “the sea.” In mystical Jewish literature, the “sea” is the spiritual realm. Sinking into the sea, as such, can be seen as a rapid deterioration of one’s spiritual condition. (Something that occured in Peter’s life more than once, such as in Matthew 16:23 and Matthew chapter 26). Peter’s cry as he was sinking was not for a lifeguard.
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Not only was Peter’s condition calmed (verse 30) but so were the physical elements.
Psalm 65:8 – Who stillest the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples
36 as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
The same was said about Paul’s clothing. In fact even his garments had some kind of miraculous power about them (Acts 19:12). Unfortunately, due to a lack of grounding in God’s Torah, many superstitions have emanated from these specific miracles. Instead of focusing on learning and doing the Torah (which conforms us to the image of God), people have resorted to creating and using everything from medals to “prayer cloths,” in vain efforts to bring themselves “closer to God.
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
The story in this chapter one that has consistently been misused to teach that the Messiah did away with the Levitical food commandments (kosher laws). The text plainly shows that this is not the subject at hand, yet many ignore this in order to teach against Torah. (See comments on verse 14 below).
The context of the discussion, is stated clearly in this verse (and at the end of the topic, in verse 20). The subject is not the kosher laws, but that of “washing of hands.” There is more to this tradition than what the scripture tells however. (Hence the advantage of knowing the Hebrew background to the discussion.)
There were varying mystical beliefs among some Jews of Yeshua’s day, not all firmly grounded in Torah. Some of these ideas had to do with how a person could become spiritually “clean” or “unclean.” (A concept, that is of course, quite biblical.) One such teaching was that during the night, evil spirits could come into a man’s body. These spirits would exit the body through the hands (more precisely, the fingertips). The body would become spiritually “clean” again, in the morning, with the exception of the fingertips/hands. It was taught that the hands had to be washed in order to remove any defilement that would cause anything touched (i.e., food) to become unclean.
Yeshua is showing that this hand-washing tradition that was not based in Torah, was in fact nullifying Torah, as they were calling unclean, foods that God Himself had declared clean, simply by eating with unwashed hands. He also chastises the teachers for breaking true Torah commandments (while laying these unnecessary burdens on the people) by citing their own lack of properly following the commandment of honoring father and mother. This is the lesson of verses 2-20.
Another scripture cited in the same incorrect fashion is Peter’s vision of the unclean animals in Acts chapter 10. Here too, the context and explanation are ignored in order to support false doctrine. Dreams in scripture commonly use specific items and themes to represent certain people, places, things and teachings. In the case of Peter’s dream in Acts 10, he clearly explains this vision several times throughout the book of Acts. Not once does Peter say that God showed him that the laws of kashrut are done away with. Rather, in every case, he explains the meaning of the dream as being that gentiles were not to be considered as “unclean,” and could directly come to faith through Yeshua — something that God had not provided for before Yeshua’s death. (See comments to verse 24 below.)
3 Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Here is a second statement about the problem at hand — Yeshua is not telling them the kosher laws (given by God) are suspended (in violation of His own words in Matthew 5:17-18), but clearly says they are breaking God’s Torah by this particular man-made (not God-given) tradition.
It should be noted that Yeshua is not against tradition, including many of the traditions of the Pharisaic Judaism. Such tradition is the way in which we “walk out” our faith (called halakha). As we will see in the next chapter, Yeshua even gave the power to set such “tradition” to His disciples.
What Yeshua is opposed to is any tradition not founded in Torah that places itself above Torah.
9 teaching for doctrines the commandments of men
He repeats His criticism. They are elevating the doctrines of men over the commandments of the Torah. The kosher laws are from God, they are not traditions of men. In fact, teaching that the kosher laws (or any part of Torah) is done away with, would be what God would consider “commandments of men” and goes against His Word (Matthew 5:17-18).
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth
This is the verse that is commonly pulled out of its context to support the idea that the kosher laws have been done away with. Yeshua is teaching that we don’t make clean foods unclean by failing to ceremonially wash our hands before we eat. Non-kosher food is not part of this discussion as the surrounding verses show.
13 Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
With allusions to the sower parables in Matthew chapter 13.
14 blind leaders of the blind
Despite “popular opinion,” the situation is the same today. The vast majority of people who say they believe in the God of the Bible, follow teachers who tell them that they are “free” from what they call “the Law,” (an inaccurate translation of “Torah,” which is God’s revelation/instruction on how to live, for all who claim to be His people.) The examples given above (Matthew 5:17-21; 15:2-20, Acts 10, etc.), show how people ignore what is explained in the text of the Bible, in favor of following man’s anti-Torah doctrines. This is not dissimilar to what many of the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day did. Then, as now, men reject the truth of God’s Torah.
This is NOT to say that we must first learn and follow the Torah to be saved. That has never been the case, as men and women have always been saved by trusting God (faith) which is a free gift from Him. No one can merit entry into heaven based on works. What is being said, is that once anyone “comes to know of God,” and His salvation in Yeshua, His Son, there is a path for them to “walk,” and this is to learn of, and begin doing God’s Torah (Romans 2:13; James 1:22-25).
The only other path is the “false torah” of the flesh and of the world (i.e., Romans 7:23). Picking and choosing commandment from the Torah is not an acceptable position with God (James 2:10), nor is “straddling the fence,” (i.e., Revelation 3:15-16).
Those commandments that we are able to keep are the ones we should strive to learn of and follow, in order to be conformed to the image of God — which is a main purpose of the Torah. We cannot keep all of God’s commandments perfectly, because there is no Temple or priesthood (and also because most of us are living outside the land of Israel).
Because the Torah has been rejected by followers of the Messiah for such a long time, we need to diligently re-learn the Torah precept by precept. The Holy Spirit is our guide, but this does not alleviate us of our responsibility of diligently studying God’s word:
2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Acts 17:11 – These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
The Holy Spirit will never contradict Torah, as it is God’s word. If someone believes the “spirit” is telling them that it is permissible to go against any Torah command (correctly understood in context), then that person is being led by some other spirit.
One question to ask is, “If someone tells a person they are a sinner and need to repent (i.e., as in most “salvation messages” given today), how does that person know what ‘sin’ is?” Scripture tells us that sin is violation of God’s Torah (including all the teachings of the Tenakh/”Old Testament”).
Torah was the ONLY standard used by Yeshua and his disciples. Paul and the others only taught Yeshua and salvation out of the Tenakh as there was no “New Testament” around at the time. Neither Yeshua (Matthew 5:17-21), or Paul (Romans 3:31), or any of the other disciples, did away with any part of the faith of Israel. The original believers continued in this faith, only now with knowledge of the promised Messiah.
The “New Testament” is of course, inspired of God, but it was never meant to be read outside of the context of the Torah. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is done today, with churches giving their own meaning to the teachings of the “New Testament.” They then use this to explain the “Old Testament.” This is “putting the cart in front of the horse.” (i.e., the common practice of handing out “New Testaments” to people, rather than complete Bibles.)
Gentiles who came to faith in Yeshua, did not become “Christians,” as there was no such separation from Judaism (“the faith of Israel”) until much later. Gentiles who came to faith, came into the faith of Israel with its Torah (Ephesians 2:10-13) and began to learn more of the Torah as they were taught within the faith of Israel (Acts 15:21).
20 but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Yeshua wraps up the discussion by making it clear what the subject has been since verse 2 — eating with unwashed hands — not doing away with the Torah commandment of eating only clean foods.
24 I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As Paul also stated the following:
Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
It should be noted that the Gospel was not sent out to the gentiles until after Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Up to that time, both Yeshua and His disciples went only to the Jews. Something very mysterious happenend with His death — gentiles could now come to the God of Israel in a more direct fashion — by placing their faith in the Messiah of Israel.
Why is this? The basic explanation is that Yeshua was/is the Torah (“Word”) in the flesh (i.e., John chapter 1). Just as the Torah is the revelation of the invisible God – Yeshua is also the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Coming to trust in Yeshua, is coming to trust in God (as much as we mere mortals can know Him, which is revealed in His Torah). Yeshua is the door to this relationship. Torah is the path beyond this door – for all who wish to put their trust in Him. Sadly, most will not end up on the right path, even after learning of Him (Matthew 7:12-21).
Most people who come to know of the God of the Bible are soon taught that He changed His mind about His Torah two thousand years ago, that it was somehow done away with by Yeshua. This is taught despite the fact that Yeshua is the Torah in the flesh, (the “goal” of the Torah – Romans 10:4), who said Himself in no uncertain terms that none of the Torah was done away with by His arrival (Matthew 5:17-21).
After Yeshua’s death, the practice (evangelisic method) of the disciples was to go to the Jew first. For instance, in every town Paul went to, he first visited the local synagogue. (Paul skipped over some very large cities in his travels that lacked a signficant Jewish presence.) In each case, the Gospel was preached to the Jews first. In every location, there would be some Jews that accepted his message and others that rejected it. Once “Israel” had made its “decision” (in each town), then, and only then, would the message be given to the local gentile population.